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SOU falls to Great Falls in CCC semis

Great Falls' surprising run through the Cascade Conference Tournament went to a new level Sunday morning with its most clutch performance yet — a 3-2 comeback knockout of tourney host Southern Oregon that put the Argos in the championship round and guaranteed them a spot in the national tournament.

Argos pitcher Keeley Van Blaricom didn't allow an earned run in her five-hitter, but four errors had her team down 2-1 going into the sixth inning. In the top half, she helped herself: Hali Gruntowicz led off with a single before Van Blaricom split gap in left-center field for a double that plated the tying run. Then, with two outs in the top of the seventh, Alex Lowry hit a single and Gruntowicz found the gap in right-center with a lined double that scored Lowry from first, making it 3-2.

The defense did come through for Blaricom to get the last three outs. SOU's Aaliyah Oliver, a speed centerfielder, led off with a single but was cut down by third baseman Chloe Cross at second when Kelsey Randall tried to bunt her over. After Alexa Gonzalez's single put runners at first and second with one out, Kayleen Smith hit a grounder to shortstop where Larson fielded, stepped on second and gunned to first for the final out.

Smith hadn't hit into a double play all season. Earlier in the game, she was caught stealing for just the third time in 46 attempts this season by catcher Jocelyn Kaufman.

SOU's Sydney White was the tough-luck loser. She allowed two earned runs in a complete game with four strikeouts and a walk. The Raiders (36-16) will hope for an at-large bid to the NAIA tournament when the field is announced next week.

UGF (25-17) will have to defeat Eastern Oregon twice this afternoon to win the tournament title.